Five Tips to Prepare for Today’s Job Market

By Randy Wooden, Director, Professional Center by Goodwill, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina

COVID-19 has brought major changes on many fronts, not the least of which affects our work. Our friends, colleagues, and even ourselves have experienced furloughs, layoffs, or a cut back in our hours or pay.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, now is the time brush up on your job search and interview techniques and learn new skills. Preparing for when the world reopens may seem simple. You might assume you can go into an interview the same way you did prior to COVID-19. There may be more to it than that.

Let’s explore some tips for preparing for today’s job market.

  1. Learn new skills. Take time to explore any number of free or low-cost online trainings to improve your skills. Many Goodwills are providing online courses for their communities in areas such as job preparation skills, job search techniques, job leads and placements, and job-readiness skills, including résumé writing, interview skills building, dressing techniques and more. You can also take courses at no cost to you using, a free online educational website focusing on technology, job training, and reading and math skills.
  2. Build your network. Relationships you’ve formed over time can be a great source for new job opportunities. Network with others to help you learn of future needs and to become front of mind as those positions become available. Job searching is a process. Relying solely on online postings and applying to them is only a part of the puzzle. Don’t neglect your personal contacts and those you know via your social media.
  3. Customize your résumé. Incorporate key words from each company’s job description and requirements. Include recent accomplishments that would resonate with the hiring manager to show you’re good at what you do. Check out these two simple steps to get started on creating your résumé. When you’re done, head on over to Indeed to upload it and receive a free résumé review.
  4. Sign up with a staffing firm. Your quickest path to employment may lie with a staffing firm. These agencies have continued to maintain contact with companies through this pandemic and know where the jobs are. These may not be the jobs that will lead to your ideal, career-oriented pursuits, but for any number of reasons, you may want to get back into the ranks of the employed and use them as a building block to continue onto your chosen career path.
  5. Practice your interviewing skills. You’ll be applying for jobs in an employer’s market where the employer can be choosy about who they hire, so you’ll need to stand out. Rehearse your answers to common interview questions. Too many applicants wing it, feeling their personality will win the day. While being genuine is important, you’ll want to plan for how you’ll deal with typical interview questions so you come across more prepared and professional. Many interviews may be conducted via video conference while the pandemic continues. Check out our tips for preparing for a virtual interview. Remember to practice for answers to behavioral questions as well.

During this time of social distancing, many local Goodwill organizations are providing online training, live virtual classes, and virtual career development services by phone or video conference, all at no cost to you. To learn about the career services available in your area, visit the Goodwill Locator. Click the Filter option and select Headquarters only. Then, enter your ZIP or Postal code and click the magnifying glass or hit Enter to find your local Goodwill’s website, social media channels or phone number for localized information.

You can access additional online skills-building resources now. If you are looking for immediate work, you can connect with employers that are immediately hiring. Find a job today.